Are parallel universes real?
Around 2010, scientists such as Stephen M. Feeney analyzed Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) data and claimed to find evidence suggesting that our universe collided with other (parallel) universes in the distant past.
However, a more thorough analysis of data from the WMAP and from the Planck satellite, which has a resolution 3 times higher than WMAP, did not reveal any statistically significant evidence of such a bubble universe collision
In addition, there was no evidence of any gravitational pull of other universes on ours.
UK’s Royal Astronomical Society, recently published a study on the so-called ‘cold spot’. This is a particularly cool patch of space seen in the radiation produced by the formation of the Universe more than 13 billion years ago.
The cold spot was first glimpsed by NASA’s WMAP satellite in 2004, and then confirmed by ESA’s Planck mission in 2013. It is supremely puzzling. Most astronomers and cosmologists believe that it is highly unlikely to have been produced by the birth of the universe as it is mathematically difficult for the leading theory — which is called inflation — to explain.
This latest study claims to rule out a last-ditch prosaic explanation: that the cold spot is an optical illusion produced by a lack of intervening galaxies.
One of the study’s authors, Professor Tom Shanks of Durham University, told the RAS, “We can’t entirely rule out that the Spot is caused by an unlikely fluctuation explained by the standard [theory of the Big Bang]. But if that isn’t the answer, then there are more exotic explanations. Perhaps the most exciting of these is that the Cold Spot was caused by a collision between our universe and another bubble universe. If further, more detailed, analysis … proves this to be the case then the Cold Spot might be taken as the first evidence for the multiverse.”
Arguments against multiverse theories
For a start, how is the existence of the other universes to be tested? To be sure, all cosmologists accept that there are some regions of the universe that lie beyond the reach of our telescopes, but somewhere on the slippery slope between that and the idea that there are an infinite number of universes, credibility reaches a limit. As one slips down that slope, more and more must be accepted on faith, and less and less is open to scientific verification. Extreme multiverse explanations are therefore reminiscent of theological discussions. Indeed, invoking an infinity of unseen universes to explain the unusual features of the one we do see is just as ad hoc as invoking an unseen Creator. The multiverse theory may be dressed up in scientific language, but in essence it requires the same leap of faith.
Paul Davies, The New York Times, “A Brief History of the Multiverse”
As skeptical as I am, I think the contemplation of the multiverse is an excellent opportunity to reflect on the nature of science and on the ultimate nature of existence: why we are here…. In looking at this concept, we need an open mind, though not too open. It is a delicate path to tread. Parallel universes may or may not exist; the case is unproved. We are going to have to live with that uncertainty. Nothing is wrong with scientifically based philosophical speculation, which is what multiverse proposals are. But we should name it for what it is.
George Ellis, Scientific American, “Does the Multiverse Really Exist?”
The multiverse is a hypothetical group of multiple separate universes including the universe in which humans live. True Science of Parallel Universes
TWO POPULAR PROPONENTS
Level I: An extension of our Universe
Accordingly, an infinite universe will contain an infinite number of Hubble volumes, all having the same physical laws and physical constants. In regard to configurations such as the distribution of matter, almost all will differ from our Hubble volume. However, because there are infinitely many, far beyond the cosmological horizon, there will eventually be Hubble volumes with similar, and even identical, configurations.
Given infinite space, there would, in fact, be an infinite number of Hubble volumes identical to ours in the universe.
This follows directly from the cosmological principle, wherein it is assumed that our Hubble volume is not special or unique.
Level II: Universes with different physical constants
Bubble universes — every disk represents a bubble universe. Our universe is represented by one of the disks.
Universe 1 to Universe 6 represent bubble universes. Five of them have different physical constants than our universe has.
In the chaotic inflation theory, which is a variant of the cosmic inflationtheory, the multiverse or space as a whole is stretching and will continue doing so forever, but some regions of space stop stretching and form distinct bubbles (like gas pockets in a loaf of rising bread). Such bubbles are embryonic level I multiverses.
Level III: Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics
In brief, one aspect of quantum mechanics is that certain observations cannot be predicted absolutely. Instead, there is a range of possible observations, each with a different probability. According to the MWI, each of these possible observations corresponds to a different universe. Suppose a six-sided die is thrown and that the result of the throw corresponds to a quantum mechanics observable. All six possible ways the die can fall correspond to six different universes.
Tegmark argues that a Level III multiverse does not contain more possibilities in the Hubble volume than a Level I or Level II multiverse. In effect, all the different “worlds” created by “splits” in a Level III multiverse with the same physical constants can be found in some Hubble volume in a Level I multiverse. Tegmark writes that, “The only difference between Level I and Level III is where your doppelgängers reside. In Level I they live elsewhere in good old three-dimensional space. In Level III they live on another quantum branch in infinite-dimensional Hilbert space.”
Similarly, all Level II bubble universes with different physical constants can, in effect, be found as “worlds” created by “splits” at the moment of spontaneous symmetry breaking in a Level III multiverse. According to Yasunori Nomura, Raphael Bousso, and Leonard Susskind, this is because global spacetime appearing in the (eternally) inflating multiverse is a redundant concept. This implies that the multiverses of Levels I, II, and III are, in fact, the same thing. This hypothesis is referred to as “Multiverse = Quantum Many Worlds”.
Level IV: Ultimate ensemble
The ultimate mathematical universe hypothesis is Tegmark’s own hypothesis. This level considers all universes to be equally real which can be described by different mathematical structures.
Brian Greene discussed nine types of multiverses:
The quilted multiverse works only in an infinite universe. With an infinite amount of space, every possible event will occur an infinite number of times. However, the speed of light prevents us from being aware of these other identical areas.
The inflationary multiverse is composed of various pockets in which inflation fields collapse and form new universes.
The brane multiverse version postulates that our entire universe exists on a membrane (brane) which floats in a higher dimension or “bulk”. In this bulk, there are other membranes with their own universes. These universes can interact with one another, and when they collide, the violence and energy produced is more than enough to give rise to a big bang. The branes float or drift near each other in the bulk, and every few trillion years, attracted by gravity or some other force we do not understand, collide and bang into each other. This repeated contact gives rise to multiple or “cyclic” big bangs. This particular hypothesis falls under the string theory umbrella as it requires extra spatial dimensions.
The cyclic multiverse (via the ekpyrotic scenario) has multiple branes (each a universe) that have collided, causing Big Bangs. The universes bounce back and pass through time until they are pulled back together and again collide, destroying the old contents and creating them anew.
The landscape multiverse relies on string theory’s Calabi–Yau spaces. Quantum fluctuations drop the shapes to a lower energy level, creating a pocket with a set of laws different from that of the surrounding space.
The holographic multiverse is derived from the theory that the surface area of a space can simulate the volume of the region.
The simulated multiverse exists on complex computer systems that simulate entire universes.
The ultimate multiverse contains every mathematically possible universe under different laws of physics.
Reality may be made up of multiple universes, but each one may not be so different to our own, according to Stephen Hawking’s final theory of the cosmos.
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